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Construction turns up Cherokee grave in Franklin

Macon County’s project to turn the 48-acre Parker Meadows project into a tournament-level softball and baseball complex met some complications when construction turned up a Cherokee burial site. 

“You might hear rumors to that effect, so we’ll go ahead and confirm them,” County Commission Chairman Kevin Corbin said at the board’s July 8 meeting. 

After discovering what appeared to be a single burial site on the south end of the Parker Meadows property, county officials called the state archeologist’s office, and Stephen Claggett came down to have a look. The county also met with representatives of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and plan to have a follow-up meeting later this week to decide how to proceed. 

“We had some very positive discussion, and the project is still moving forward,” said County Manager Derek Roland. “At the end of the day we hope to be able to reach an agreement that allows us to continue moving forward with the project while preserving our relationship. We want to be very respectful of that site as we are aware of the role their culture has played in our county and our region.”

Options could include moving the grave deeper below the ground, moving it to another location or altering the project to leave it in place, said Commissioner Ronnie Beale, who attended the first meeting. 

“We want to go above and beyond whatever it takes to handle this properly,” he said. 

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The bulk of dirt-cutting associated with the project is done, so it’s unlikely more graves will be found on the property in the future, though not impossible. 

“We don’t anticipate more, but you never know,” Beale said. 

The EBCI has declined to comment until after the meeting with Macon County leaders later this week. 

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